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CRIME

Four-year-old stabbed to death by mother

A four-year-old girl has been found stabbed to death in Vienna’s Hernals district, and her 38-year-old mother has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Four-year-old stabbed to death by mother
The house where the girl was stabbed. Photo: Krone.tv

The girl's 13-year-old brother found his sister lying in a pool of blood in the family's kitchen early on Tuesday morning, with severe injuries. Police said she had been stabbed several times.

The boy told police that his mother was standing next to the body of his sister, with a knife in her hand.

The 13-year-old ran to his neighbour's house, who called police to the apartment in Goldscheidgasse.

An ambulance and first aid helicopter arrived on the scene at 7.30am and medics tried to revive the child. “Help came too late,” a spokesman for the ambulance service, Ronald Packert said.

Police said that the child's mother appeared to be in shock and did not resist arrest. The 13-year-old boy has been taken into emergency care, according to police spokesman Patrick Maierhofer.

It is believed the children's father was not at home.

A report in the Kronen Zeitung newspaper said that the family were due to be evicted from their flat on Tuesday.

A 40-year-old neighbour told the newspaper that the family had been having financial problems and that the woman had sometimes been heard shouting at her children but had never been violent towards them. She added that she had met the woman for a coffee on Monday and had lent her €200 when she heard that they were in trouble.

The children were not registered with Vienna's Youth Welfare Office.

According to the Kronen Zeitung newspaper the girl died from stab wounds to her throat. The medical team who treated her are reported to be traumatised.

In July a woman in Vienna's Favoriten district smothered her five-year-old son with a cushion. She told police that she was depressed and had been hearing voices that told her to kill her child.

For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

It’s always good to know your legal rights when living as a foreigner in Austria - including if you get in trouble with the police.

What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

Getting arrested is probably not high up on a list of must-dos for international residents in Austria, but it’s not a bad idea to know what would happen if you did.

In a nutshell, the process in Austria is similar to most other countries in that you have to be suspected of committing a crime to be arrested.

But what happens next? What are your rights? And how long can someone be held in custody?

Here’s what you need to know.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: What cyclists and drivers in Austria need to know about new rules

When can someone be arrested in Austria?

If someone is suspected of being a criminal, they can be arrested by the police and taken to a police station for questioning. 

Under the Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure, suspects must be informed of their rights as soon as possible, or at the very least before being interrogated by the police.

They also have a right to remain silent or to make a statement, as well as consult a lawyer.

According to Vienna-based attorney Evert Vastenburg, the initial detainment after arrest can last up to 48 hours while a judge decides whether a person should remain in custody or not.

A suspect can then be released on bail or under certain conditions, such as handing over a passport to police.

However, those suspected of serious crimes that typically lead to a prison sentence of 10 years or more (if found guilty) are almost always remanded in custody.

READ MORE: Austria wary of cyber attacks after personal data of foreign residents leaked online

When is someone remanded in custody?

To be refused bail and remanded in custody, there must be serious suspicion that another crime could be committed. 

The judge also must believe there is no other way to deal with the suspect. For example, he/she needs to be readily available to the authorities for questioning.

Another valid reason to keep someone in custody past the initial 48 hours is the risk of someone absconding. In fact, Vastenburg says a flight risk is often assumed with people that do not live and work in Austria.

Other reasons to deny a suspect release are a risk that evidence will be destroyed, witnesses will be contacted, or there is a possibility that further crimes will be committed.

What happens if bail is denied?

If bail is denied and a person must be held in custody for more than 48 hours, they have to be legally represented by a lawyer.

If a suspect can’t afford to hire a lawyer, they will be appointed a Verfahrenshilfe (public defender) by the state.

The case will be then reviewed by a judge on a regular basis to decide if custody should continue.

The first review will take place after 14 days, then at one month and every two months, but a suspect can petition for release at any time.

READ ALSO: Six tourist scams to be aware of in Austria

How many foreigners are in Austrian prisons?

According to data from the Austrian Judiciary, the number of foreigners in Austrian jails as of June 1st 2022 was 4,332 – almost 50 percent of all prisoners.

In relation to the statistics, the Austrian Judiciary states: “The high proportion of foreigners is one of many challenges for the Austrian penal system. 

“In particular, with regard to successful rehabilitation, the fastest possible transfer to the countries of origin is encouraged.

The most common nationality of foreign prisoners in Austria is Romanian, followed by people from the former Yugoslavian states, Hungary, Nigeria and Turkey.

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